Levigating a palatable theriac

The back room of the apothecary was hot. Hotter than anything Meriam could remember, even the noon sun.

“Mister Winterbottom? Sir, are you in here?” She coughed violently as a puff of steam rose from a bowl of goo nearby. It stank.

“Over here girl.” The reedy voice sang out from deeper in the heat. Meriam drew her dark curls away from her neck as she moved toward the voice.

“Sir what are you doing?” She asked as she found her master huddled over a slab of granite.

“Levigating girl, need to levigate.”
“Levigating? For what sir? Don’t we have enough ointments?”

He flapped his hands wildly and Meriam was reminded of the old women shooing pigeons in the square. She stifled her giggle. Being apprenticed to Mister Winterbottom was always amusing.
“Not ointments, no, no, must create a theriac.”

Meriam frowned and wiped at the sweat dripping from her brow.
“But Mister Winterbottom, sir, theriacs don’t work.”

“True! True!” He flew up from his position on the floor in a rush causing her to jump back a step. “But what if we made them palatable? Surely that would be an improvement!”

Meriam raised an eyebrow.
“A pleasant tasting cure-all made from pulverizing, whatever that is,” she motioned to the goo on his slab, “that doesn’t work…I’m sure people will be thrilled sir.”

“Psh. You have no imagination.”

Annual preparation of theriac in Strassburg (National Library of Medicine)

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